Friday, March 30, 2007

Cruelest month?

April vacation is coming up and it's always the third week in April, to coincide with Patriot's Day, a Massachusetts holiday, and not Passover, as in and around New York City. This year I will be working, for the first time, and Dave is busy researching places for him to go with Lily and things for them to do. It's particularly hard because she doesn't have friends here who might want to, say, join her on a day trip to MASS MoCA or the Boston Science Museum. Lots of kids in Brooklyn would be thrilled. Oh well.

Patriot's Day, Wikipedia tells me -- and take that source for what it's worth -- is also celebrated in Maine and is held in honor of the revolution starting in Lexington and Concord in 1775. There's great parades in both towns, with guys dressed in colonial garb banging on drums and playing Yankee Doodle on fifes, Red Coats, high school marching bands, fire engines -- all the kinds of stuff I like.

I also know that the Boston Marathon is held that day, although I seem to think they wanted to switch it to Sunday, at one point. That was always a gas; we'd walk down to route 16 and hold out oranges for the runners. The first woman always got a big hand, as did the unusual; I still remember a family of Asian runners starting in ages from about 8 years old on up. We always walked home saying, admiringly, "and all the winner gets is a bowl of beef stew!" Well, those days are long gone. Now you can't even run in it if you haven't qualified in an earlier marathon. Pooh! At least they allow women in today. They didn't when I was a kid. Double pooh!

Apparently, in another longtime tradition, the Red Sox always hold a home game on Patriot's Day at Fenway Park. So when my choices are baseball, parades, or the marathon, it's easy to see where I didn't go: I am so not a baseball fan, or any sports fan, and yes, I did work at Sports Illustrated for 10 months. Learned a lot there, too, including that no matter how many ways you look at it, you can't force an interest in something. I looked at sports from a theatrical point of view, as a sociological force, with a cultural eye and a business one. Nada. I just didn't care.

I will always be grateful to Sandy Padwe, my sports journalism professor at Columbia and a senior editor at SI, and Bambi Wulf, then SI's chief of reporters, for the job, though. Bambi, who grew up in my hometown and is now an assistant managing editor at Time, taught me to fact-check, a fabulous and thorough teacher. As horseracing reporter I went to the Breeder's Cup, held at Gulfstream that year, and I was sitting next to Arthur Hancock, the owner of Sunday Silence, when the horse won the Classic. Very cool. The job also positioned me to move on to LIFE, and the rest is history.

When we moved to the Pioneer Valley several people told me I could move to Massachusetts only on the condition that I not become a Red Sox fan. I said I was born here and lived most of my life here, so it was already preordained that if I rooted for any team, that would be the one. But then I hastened to add that I care so little about sports that when the Sox won the World Series I didn't watch. Not a single pitch. I just don't care. I like to play.

Still in Bardo, here, new job, lots of visitors, lots of obligations of various sorts. But I've made another new friend, a magazine editor whose 8-year-old daughter goes to Bement, spring sure is coming, the croci are popping up, we had a bluejay on the bird feeder, and every day above ground is a good one.

"May I suggest this is the best part of your life."

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